The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 24, 2013

Celebrating Eldon

ELDON — The annual festival celebrating the town of less than 1,000 ties the community’s bonds tighter through a weekend of music, food, performances and tournaments.

American Gothic Days will take over Eldon again June 7-9.

”It’s the town festival,” said Holly Berg, administrator of the American Gothic House Center. “I think it’s good to celebrate everything we have in town. It’s a way to get everyone out and celebrating everything that goes on here. I’ve always been amazed, since I started here, how many events Eldon puts on every year.”

The theme of this year’s Gothic Days is “All Around Reading,” since the Eldon Public Library is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

New to the three-day event this year is a performance of “Smoke on the Mountain” at the 122-year-old McHaffey Opera House, which just finished being renovated this year after sitting silent since 1947.

”We’ve been working for probably 20 years at restoring that opera house,” Stacey said.

A week ago, the first performance in nearly 70 years was held at the opera house: the Cardinal Parade of Bands concert.

Though there isn’t an exact way to count attendees each year since there is no entry fee, Berg said the American Gothic House Center alone saw around 250 people pass through every day of the festival last year.

”But this year, it’s also Eldon Alumni Weekend,” she said, which means even more will likely roll through town.

The weekend will be filled with activities for all ages, including a 5K walk and run, art contest, bicycle ride, parade, kids’ games, mud run and cardboard boat races — “which are always hilarious,” Stacey said.

The event, which is sponsored by GATE (Gothic Area Tourism of Eldon), has been held every year since GATE was launched in 1987, Stacey said.

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